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Improve, Kalaba challenges PR community

CHALI MULENGA, Livingstone
GOVERNMENT has urged public relations practitioners and communications specialists to improve channels of communication with their key audiences.
And ZAPRA president Davies Mupenda urged practitioners to embrace new methods of communication and stakeholder engagement instead of thinking that the media will follow the news.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba said there is need to institute new ways of setting up a two-way flow of information and understanding in their communication.
Mr Kalaba said practitioners play a critical role in establishing and maintaining relationships between an orgainsation and its key audience.
He was speaking on Thursday during the Zambia Public Relations Association (ZAPRA) conference under the theme ‘Leadership in Communication – Elevation Stakeholder Engagement,’ at Protea Hotel in Livingstone.
“Every organisation, regardless of its size, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success,” he said.
Mr Kalaba said practitioners have a duty to provide important and timely information that helps to regulate public perception and in turn save the face of the organisation.
He said the role of practitioners is not only restricted to the organisation or institutional level but extends to national level.
“I wish to state that you are not alone in this quest to elevate our great country’s image. Every Zambian citizen has a responsibility to add value to the reputation of their respective institution community and ultimately their country,” Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba said it is of paramount importance to ensure that Zambia presents a positive image to the outside world in order for the country to realise its national interests.
“It is in  this respect that the diplomatic missions consists of press attaches serving in various foreign missions who work tirelessly in ensuring that Zambia’s image is safeguarded through supporting the implementation of Zambia’s foreign policy,” he said.
Mr Kalaba said the press attache is the spokesperson and public relations wing of Zambia’s missions abroad.
“Press attaches initiate areas of co-operation between the media in the host country and the Zambian media. Such co-operation helps to increase the inflow of information between the two countries,” he said.
ZAPRA president Davies Mupenda urged practitioners to embrace new methods of communication and stakeholder engagement instead of thinking that the media will follow the news.
Mr Mupenda said gone are the days when public practitioners would parrot what the board or the chief executive officer has prepared to give to the public.
He said the citizens nowadays demand accountability and transparency.
“There is an area of concern, the issue of ethics. Some PR practitioners or communicators are known to engage in unethical conduct, for example buying off the media or leaking confidential information to the media or the general public,” he said.
Mr Mupenda said the danger of engaging is such unethical conduct is that once the exposed a person would lose everyone’s trust.

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